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James Sheers

** community contributed record **

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: James Sheers
Aliases: Sheirs
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1747
Occupation: Butcher
Date of Death: 1838
Age: 91 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 56 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: Highway robbery
Convicted at: Old Bailey
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Scarborough
Departure date: 13th May, 1787
Arrival date: 26th January, 1788
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 16 other convicts


Primary source: Convict ships to NSW History Australia
Source description:

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Community Contributions

Phil Hands on 6th August, 2017 wrote:

James, a Butcher by trade, was tried and convicted at the Old Bailey on 7th July 1784 for highway robery, assaulting Charles Wright on the King’s Highway, on the 2nd of July, and putting him in fear and danger of his life, and taking from his person and against his will, one watch, with the outside case made of shagreen, and an inside case made of base metal, value 40s. a metal chain, value 5s. one ring, value 5s. one seal value 1s. a metal key value 6d. and a metal hook value 6d. his property, he was sentenced to death, James was sent to Newgate Prison to await his hanging at Tyburn, the prosecutor had recommended him for mercy, and on 19th March 1785 the sentence was remitted on condition of transportation to Africa for life. On 5th April 1785, he was sent to the hulk ‘Ceres’, a former East Indiaman that was moored at Woolwich on the Thames, it had been established as a prison hulk in March 1785 to hold convicts from Newgate, pending transportation to Africa. The accommodation was basic and overcrowded, the convicts were shackled together and slept two to a plank bed with a single blanket to cover them. The expense of maintaining them was offset by putting them to work dredging the Thames and building embankments. Problems with transportation to the African continent meant that James would be sent on the first fleet to the new Penal Colony of New South Wales. James remained on the ‘Ceres’ until ordered to Portsmouth on 24th February1787 to board his transportation vessel.
Left England on 13th May 1787.
Ship:- the ‘Scarborough’ sailed with 208 male convicts on board, there were no reported deaths during the voyage.
Arrived on 26th January 1788.

There are variants of his name in the records – Shiers, Shears or Sheers; the only record of his actual signature is that on his marriage record1 where he used the spelling ‘Sheers’.

James married convict Mary Smith (‘Lady Penrhyn’ 1788) on 21st February 1788 at Sydney Cove.
On 4th March 1790 James & Mary were sent to Norfolk Island on the ‘Sirius’. James was a butcher on Norfolk Island.
Mary and James separated before 1791, James went on to have 3 children with convict Elizabeth Wishaw.

On 23 March 1796 James received an Absolute Pardon from the Governor of New South Wales and in 1797 he was granted 60 acres of land, Settler’s Block number 12.
On 14 January 1800 James sold the 60 acres of land at Norfolk Island to a Thomas Fowler he remained on Norfolk Island as he was recorded living there in 1811.
In 1821 the New South Wales Muster shows James working for Captain Piper . Captain Piper was the husband of James’ daughter Mary Ann.

James died at the home of Captain John Piper in 1838 at Bathurst, New South Wales.

Phil Hands on 6th August, 2017 wrote:

Old Bailey Trial Transcription.
Reference Number: t17840707-12

672. JAMES SHIERS was indicted for feloniously assaulting Charles Wright on the King’s highway, on the 2nd of July, and putting him in fear and danger of his life, and feloniously taking from his person and against his will, one watch, with the outside case made of shagreen, and an inside case made of base metal, value 40 s. a metal chain, value 5 s. one ring, value 5 s. one seal value 1 s. a metal key, value 6 d. and a metal hook, value 6 d. his property .
I am clerk to a banker ; I was robbed on the morning of the 2d of July, at past two o’clock, in the Strand ; I was going from the city.
Court. To what place? - No determined place, on a walk.
What part of the Strand were you robbed? - About ten yards beyond the pavement; I perceived the prisoner, seemingly in company with another man, about two or three yards before he came upon me, they were coming towards the city, they met me, the prisoner came upon me with force by a jostle, and applied his hand to my watch pocket, and with a considerable degree of force tore it out of my pocket; my pocket being tight made me scarcely sensible of it.
Did he touch you otherwise than by jostling you? - He came just upon me, face to face, with a view as I judged to take away my recollection at the time.
Where did he hit you, or strike you? - He came quite upon my breast and made me go back, he came suddenly upon me, the force that he was obliged to apply to take my watch from me, the pocket being tight, suspended his arm above his head, I instantly catched him by the collar, and with my other hand endeavoured to regain my watch, at the same time one of the other witnesses came up and catched him by the collar, and endeavoured to regain my watch too, he still holding the watch at the full extent of his arm; I was in company with five more, four of which saw the watch in his possession; he endeavoured to drop the watch, a parcel of men and women came round him on the other side of me, by which means he conveyed away the watch.
Did he drop it? - Not to my knowledge.
Did you ever see your watch afterwards? - Never after it went out of his hand, but I saw it for some small space of time in his hand; I apprehended him, and conveyed him to custody with other assistance, I never lost my hold.
Prisoner. Ask him whether he was drunk or no? - I had been drinking moderately.
Court. Was you disguised? - No.
I was just behind the prosecutor, when I came up to him I saw the watch in the prisoner’s hand, by some means he conveyed it away; there were several girls of the town about him, and we took him to the watch-house.
Did you see him run against the prosecutor? - I was just behind, I could not distinguish, there was a kind of jostle, but I could not distinguish.
Court. Was the prosecutor drunk? - Not in the least, he had been drinking.
Prisoner. There was a mob all round, and they caught hold of me and a woman, and stripped us both naked, and said we had the watch. Please to look at this here.
(Holding out a paper.)
Court. You must read it yourself. - I cannot read, it is the state of the case, and how it happened, and every thing of the kind.
Court. You know your own story.
I was going to Smithfield market, about five o’clock, and these gentlemen was coming along drunk, and had three or four girls with them and two or three watchmen, and I came up to see what was the matter, and they took me; I had not so much as a stick to walk with.
Have you any witnesses to call to your character?
Prisoner. I was taken with such a disappointment, that the man would not let me send for my friends, I do not think I have a friend in the Court; it is a very hard case indeed.
Court to Jury. Gentlemen, this is a robbery in its nature somewhat similar to that committed by Richard Edwards on Captain Elphinstone , which you tried very lately.
GUILTY , Death .
Prosecutor. My Lord, if you consider him as a worthy object, I would wish to recommend him to mercy.
Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice HEATH.

Convict Changes History

Phil Hands on 6th August, 2017 made the following changes:

convicted at, term: years, voyage, source: Convict ships to NSW History Australia (prev. ), firstname: James, surname: Sheers, alias1: Sheirs, alias2: , alias3: , alias4: , date of birth: 1747, date of death: 1838, gender: m, occupation, crime

Phil Hands on 6th August, 2017 made the following changes:

convicted at, term: 99 years, voyage

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